Many of us figured Wood for trade bait. That may not actually be the case.
There’s a prevailing sentiment among Houston Rockets fans that Christian Wood isn’t long for the roster. The 6’10” big man has one year and $14 million left on his contract, and despite coming aboard two years ago to much fanfare to play alongside James Harden and subsequently putting up some pretty respectable numbers in a rebuild instead when Harden was traded, he’s at times seemed like an awkward fit.
He’s taken criticism for his defense, attitude, and potential compatibility alongside Houston’s young core, and many felt that the Rockets would deal him this year before his contract expired, getting something in return before he hit the open market.
Well, surprise-surprise, that might not actually be the case. According to Mark Berman of Fox Sports, Wood has had discussions with the Rockets organization about an extension and says that he expects those talks to continue.
Christian Wood, who’s throwing out a ceremonial pitch before today’s Astros game, says he’s had a conversation with the @HoustonRockets about an extension and expects to have more. pic.twitter.com/PYjUn7T9Br
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) June 8, 2022
That’s an interesting development because it’s an almost certainty that Wood is going to be looking for some big contract numbers. His averages with the Rockets over the last two seasons stand at 19.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1 block per game on 50.7 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from deep.
Those are certainly numbers on the surface that scream a high figure when talking contract. Wood will be 27 years old when the season starts, and it’s likely that this is his “prime years” contract. Will he be seeking the max? The Rockets do have John Wall’s $47 million coming off of the books after this season, so they will certainly have some cash to play with, but is it wise to spend a large chunk of it on a guy who, thus far, hasn’t shown how much he can affect winning?
In fact, the only time Wood has spent on a winning team were the 13 games he played with the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2018-2019 season in which he averaged 4.9 minutes per night. Every other team Wood has played on in his seven NBA seasons has finished with a losing record.
That’s not to say he can’t be a stud at times. Watching him go for 39 and 10 on 14-for-18 shooting in a win against the Washington Wizards this past season was a thing of beauty. But we’ve also seen him sulk when he doesn’t get the ball enough, and anyone doubting that this isn’t going to be Jalen Green’s team moving forward should reassess.
The Rockets are also looking hard at one of the top three big men with the third overall pick, with Duke star Paolo Banchero currently projected to fall to them. If the Rockets select Banchero (or any of the top three bigs) and with Alperen Sengun also looking for more minutes this year, where exactly does that leave Wood? It likely leaves him complaining about playing time if those three are constantly jockeying for minutes. Not the ideal sitch for an extension of a mercurial player.
If the Rockets are serious about extending Wood, does that mean that the rumors the front office is considering Jaden Ivey at three are potentially more serious than draft season misinformation? If Houston goes Ivey, that means more frontcourt room for an extended Wood. Or does it maybe mean the team still goes with a big in this draft but isn’t as high on Sengun as we initially thought?
Lots of questions to be answered if this rumor is true, and we likely won’t have any more concrete information about Houston’s line of thinking until the NBA Draft gets here in two more weeks.